Listing of EF5 or F5 tornado occurrences that have affected the WFO Huntsville County Warning Area.

 

    NOTE:
  • The most deadly tornado is notated by red text.
  • The time refers to the moment when a tornado touched down in the WFO Huntsville County Warning Area.
Date/Time County(ies) Wind Speed Rating Enhanced or Traditional F-Scale Rating Sustained Wind Speeds(MPH) Path Width(feet) Path_Length(miles) Locations Affected Fatalities Injuries Descripition
04/27/2011
6:19 PM
De kalb, AL/Dade,GA F5 Enhanced Fujita Scale Over 200 100 36.59 2.03 S of Ten Broeck to 1.13 NNW of Rising Fawn 25 UNK  A violent long track tornado began in the Lakeview community northeast of Geraldine before tracking northeastward, generally parallel to and just east of State Route 75. Along this line, the tornado passed through Fyffe, Rainsville, Sylvania, and eventually into northern DeKalb County south of the Cartersville community. On the first day of surveys, the survey team noticed initial damage in the Lakeview community where the path width was generally around 50 yards. This initial damage included mostly felled and snapped trees and structural damage to small buildings. Extensive damage was noted especially in Rainsville and Sylvania where the path width was estimated to over 1/2 mile wide. Damage in Rainsville included houses that were completely removed from foundations, with debris scattered for about one mile. Near this location, trees were debarked and a few mobile homes were completely destroyed, with debris strewn for about a mile downstream. A narrow corridor of intense damage extended from Skaggs Road to Lingerfeldt Road (also known as County Road 180), extending toward County Road 514. Along Skaggs Road, a stone house was completely obliterated with much of the interior debris strewn well away from the structure. A supporting large cement stone pillar was ripped completely out of the ground. Another home along Skaggs Road was also leveled completely to the ground. The NOAA overflight showed significant ground scarring in this area and a walk through the nearby fields showed large pot marks and other sections of disturbed ground. Slightly northeast along Lingerfeldt Road, numerous homes were leveled completely to their foundation with vehicles and debris strewn for hundreds of feet. Overhead photos and follow-up visual confirmation revealed a mangled vehicle tossed well into a ravine and resting up in the remainder of trees. At 1608 Lingerfeldt Road/County Road 180, a large two story brick home was completely obliterated with several of the supporting anchors ripped of the ground. A concrete porch was ripped off with pieces strewn up to 150 yards. A section of the asphalt driveway was pulled up. In addition, an anchored liberty safe weighing 800 pounds was pulled off its anchorage and thrown into a wooded area 600 feet away. When found, the safe's door had been ripped open and completely off. A large pick-up truck at this residence was found mangled in pieces over 250 yards away in the same wooded area. The residents of the home survived in a nearby storm pit. Of note, the storm pit was partially exposed by the tornado with dirt being sucked up and pulled away around the opening. Next door, a mobile home was completely disintegrated. The residents of the mobile there also survived in a storm pit. The section of damage from Skaggs Road to Lingerfeldt Road near the intersection with Crow Lane was deemed to be EF-5 intensity. Severe damage with high end EF-4 damage was noted in a corridor from County Road 515 through a neighborhood along County Road 441. In the east and south ends of the neighborhood, many one and two story homes were leveled to their foundation with debris scattered some distance. Several cars were thrown a large distance in this area. There was evidence of ground scarring as well as some sidewalk pavement pulled up in this location. However, some of the homes in this area appeared to be pushed off their foundation initially with limited anchorage. In the Sylvania community, similar situation occurred with houses completely removed from foundations and debris blown far downstream. Some of these houses were connected to their foundations with anchor bolts and foundation straps, indicating a stronger construction of the homes. Tornado damage continued from the Blake community, intersecting County Road 27, running parallel between State Highway 75 and Interstate 59 through Henager, Ider, to south of Cartersville. In the Blake community, the tornado path width was estimated to be one half to three quarters of a mile. Along County Road 27 just southeast of Sylvania, significant damage was observed . All exterior and interior walls of several homes were completely destroyed with partial block and mortar foundations remaining. In one instance, a concrete slab that served as a porch was displaced a few feet and broken in half. Some hardwood trees in the area were stripped with no stubs of any branches remaining and were partially debarked. The Mountain View Baptist Church sustained significant damage. An old, one-story portion of the church dating back to 1902 and constructed of a brick and mortar exterior on wood frame walls was completely destroyed. A recent two-story addition to the church was constructed in 2004 and consisting of similar building materials was partially destroyed, with most exterior walls and nearly all interior walls fallen. A concrete block and mortar foundation was all that remained of a hallway adjoining the two buildings.
It crossed into Georgia near Fox Mountain and continued to just north-northwest of Rising Fawn before lifting. It tracked approximately three miles within Dade county. The tornado path length was approximately three miles with a maximum path width of 100 yards. Maximum winds were estimated to be 110 mph. The supercell thunderstorm that spawned this tornado went on later to spawn the catastrophic EF4 tornado that destroyed the town of Ringgold, Georgia in Catoosa county less than 30 minutes later. This tornado tracked across a largely rural area and as such damage was limited to hundreds of downed trees and several power lines in the area. Minor structural damage was noted to a few homes in Rising Fawn. No deaths or injuries were reported from this particular tornado. Total damages from the three tornadoes and wind damage across Dade county on this day consist of 86 destroyed homes and/or businesses, 99 with major damage, and 25 with minor damage for a total of 210 affected structures.
04/27/2011
3:05 PM
Marion, AL/Franklin, AL/Lawrence, AL/Morgan, AL/Limestone, AL/Madison, AL/Lincoln, TN/Franklin, TN F5 Enhanced Fujita Scale Over 200 2200 132 4.27 WSW of Barnesville to 2.02 WSW of Row Gap 72 145  This devastating tornado initially touched down west of Hamilton in southwest Marion County and moved northeast where it devastated the city of Hackleburg. The average path width of the tornado while in Marion County was 0.5 mile (880 yds) and it reached EF5 intensity as it approached Hackleburg, AL in the northeastern portion of Marion County. Specifically, the tornado touched down west of AL Hwy 19 near Sipsey Creek and moved northeast and crossed Corridor X/Future Interstate 22. Here it caused significant tree damage. The tornado strengthened north of Hamilton and caused roof damage to at least one home. The storm strengthened further as it approached US Hwy 43, southwest of Hackleburg, to a violent EF4 rating with winds estimated at 170 mph. The tornado tracked parallel to US Hwy 43 toward Hackleburg and strengthened more to an EF5 with winds up to 210 mph, as its path widened to 0.75 mile (1320 yds). Several subdivisions and businesses, Hackleburg High School, Middle School, and Elementary School, and the Wrangler Plant were destroyed. Vehicles were tossed up to 200 yards. One well -built home with 4 brick sides was completely leveled and the debris from the home was tossed over 40 yards to the north. The tornado moved northeast of Hackleburg and continued to parallel US Hwy 43. Along the damage path in Marion County, thousands of trees were downed, several hundred structures were damaged, and at least 100 of these structures were completely destroyed as many homes were leveled. Eighteen fatalities are attributed to this tornado in Marion County, as well as numerous injuries. The violent long track tornado continued it's path from Marion County into southern Franklin County north of Hackleburg. It crossed into Franklin County just east of US Hwy 43. Significant devastation occurred throughout the city of Phil Campbell. Prolific damage was noted from the intersection of CR 51 and Alabama Highway 237, to the intersection of CR 81 and CR 75. Within a two mile corridor of either side of the railroad tracks the damage was significant. Within this corridor, several well-constructed houses were destroyed. Along Bonner Street, multiple block homes were leveled to the ground with the block foundations destroyed. A twenty-five foot section of pavement was sucked up and scattered. Chunks of the pavement were found in a home over 1/3 of a mile down the road. The damage in this area was consistent with EF-5 damage. In addition, at least three churches along the path sustained significant damage. One church in Phil Campbell was completely destroyed with only the slab remaining. Multiple mobile homes throughout the path were completely destroyed, and their mangled frames were tossed 25 to 50 yards. Cars were tossed and destroyed throughout the path of the tornado, with one car wrapped around a debarked tree in Phil Campbell. All along the path length, thousands of hardwood and softwood trees were snapped. Hundreds of trees were also debarked and twisted, and had only stubs of the largest branches remaining. EF-5 damage continued similarly northeast from Phil Campbell, roughly along County Roads 81 and 82 toward the community of Oak Grove. In Oak Grove, the tornado may have reached a relative maximum in intensity well into the EF-5 category as the damage was slightly more intense and the path width was at a maximum of greater than one mile. A large swath of complete devastation was noted in Oak Grove along County Roads 38 and Smith Lane. A large well-constructed home with extensive anchoring was razed with debris carried well away from the site. A Corvette sports car was mangled and thrown 641 feet (measured). A block home next door was also disintegrated. Along Smith Lane a block home was wiped out and the only remains of a nearby chicken house was a small piece of a metal truss. In this same area, the tree damage was significant and a large percentage of trees were stripped bare. The violent tornado continued to track northeast from Franklin County into Lawrence County as an EF-5 near the Mt. Hope area where significant devastation was incurred to single family homes and a restaurant. Nothing but the foundation and a pile of debris remained in this area, and a small portion of the restaurant foundation buckled. Thousands of hardwood and softwood trees were snapped, with a significant number of trees twisted and debarked with only stubs of branches remaining. Many mobile homes were also destroyed with the frames mangled, and a single family home was completely destroyed with the walls and contents strewn over a hundred yards. Further northeast the damage was slightly less intense, with more trees snapped and twisted as the tornado reached Highway 24. At this location multiple chicken houses were completely destroyed with much of the debris wrapped around debarked trees. TVA high voltage power line trusses were also destroyed at this location. As the tornado continued northeast more significant damage occurred in and around the Langtown community north of Moulton. On the west side of Alabama Highway 33, several homes sustained significant damage with roofs missing or only interior rooms remaining. A nearby store and gas station also sustained significant damage. The tornado strengthened again to a high end EF-4 as it moved over County Roads 214 and 298, where multiple houses and mobile homes were completely destroyed. Several cars were tossed into fields and wrapped around trees along County Road 291 and 292. One vehicle was tossed into a large hardwood tree that was also debarked. Tree and mobile home damage continued along County Roads 217 and 222, where a handful of large high tension TVA power poles were destroyed. Sustained EF-4 damage continued northeast towards Alabama Highway 20, where a restaurant was completely destroyed and two single family houses were significantly damaged. Tree damage continued into extreme northeastern Morgan County. As a strong tornado, it briefly crossed rural areas of Northwest Morgan County. High resolution MODIS satellite imagery combined with aerial surveys show a well-defined path of tree/vegetation damage between 1/2 and 3/4 mile wide indicative of low end EF-3 wind speeds of around 140 MPH. Just before crossing the Tennessee River into Limestone County, this tornado may have done some unconfirmed structural damage to a few buildings in an Industrial Park area along Mallard Fox Dr NW and Independence Ave. The violent tornado continued its path from the Tennessee River along the Lawrence/Limestone county line northeast through Tanner and into the east Central portion of Limestone County. Homes were completely obliterated along a wide swath in the Tanner community. Nearly a dozen high tension power lines were snapped or taken to the ground in Limestone County. Concrete power poles were also snapped off at their base. A subsequent ground team, aided by a storm survey expert from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, surveyed the most intense damage in Limestone County. High end EF-3 damage was noted over a large area in eastern Limestone County along and north of the East Limestone High School. The intensity was maximized in Limestone County in the community of Tanner, with a large swath of EF-4 damage and a narrow corridor of high end EF-4 damage. Several well-constructed homes with anchor bolting were completely wiped clean. One home had the debris lofted over 300 hundred yards with large items carried completely away. Intense ground scarring was noted in this area. In addition, a large cargo container was picked up and blown approximately 600 yards and several cars were carried airborne for hundreds of yards. In all, hundreds of homes received moderate to major damage along the path with many of these being total losses. The tornado crossed in Madison County east of Limestone County Prison…along Orvil Smith Road with a path width of ½ mile. The tornado maintained an EF-3 strength with winds of 140 to 160 MPH and a path width between ¼ and ½ mile for much of its track northeast across Old Railroad Bed Road and Ford Chapel Road, before narrowing to around 300 yards in Anderson Hills. Dozens of well-constructed homes were destroyed, in some cases with all exterior walls collapsing in both single and two-story homes. At least 3-5 mobile homes were either destroyed or swept completely clean with no evidence of debris. At least 2 other well-constructed homes had complete wall collapse in Anderson Hills and were shifted off their foundation. This damage was once again consistent with low end EF-4 wind speeds of around 170 MPH. Numerous tall pines and other hardwood trees were snapped, uprooted and debarked along the entire path. The path width widened once again to around ½ mile as the tornado tracked through residential areas along Bald Eagle Lane, Old Eli Road and Ginnery Row. At least 2 of these homes had complete wall collapse, but these structures had foundation straps and nails in lieu of bolts. At least one fatality was confirmed at one of these residences. Eight additional fatalities occurred in Madison County along the track of this violent tornado. The damage was consistent with high end EF-3 wind speeds between 140 and 160 MPH. The tornado lifted just south of the Patterson Lane after twisting irrigation equipment and snapping additional trees. Just to the northeast of this location, the tornado touched down again as an EF-0 tornado with peak wind speeds of 70 MPH. Along Grimwood Road and Walker Lane, south of Hazel Green, the tornado uprooted and snapped several trees. The tornado weakened or may have lifted briefly across extreme northeast Madison County before re-strengthening again as it entered Lincoln County in Southern Middle Tennessee. This long track tornado continued it's path into southeast Lincoln County and weakened significantly producing minor EF-0 damage. Damage was confined to a few trees snapped along and south of Mountain Road. A long track tornado continued from southeast Lincoln County. The tornado produced damage south of Huntland. Isolated and minor EF-0 tree damage was noted at the intersection of John Hunter Highway (State Route 122) and Limestone Road near the Lincoln/Franklin County line. As it strengthened again and pushed into Franklin County, TN, more significant damage was noted, starting about 1.4 miles south southwest of Huntland. A cinder block building suffered damage to its flat adobe roof, with some of blocks near the roof (around 20 feet off of the ground) pushed out, resulting in EF-2 damage. Surveyors could not directly examine the roof given this building was on the highest ground in the vicinity. Nearby, a single family home of cinder block construction had its roof totally removed, with another home about 1000 feet away having significant roof damage, with over one half of its roof removed, and some shifting off of its foundation. Damage with the latter was consistent with high end EF-2 damage. A chicken building with metal girding, nearby the second home, was completely flattened, consistent with EF-2 damage. A farm complex south of Hickory Grove Road had damage to a number of structures there. The home and the main car garage had part of their roofs removed. A barn that was protecting bales of hay was destroyed, with a few bales blown approximately 100-200 feet from their original location. The worst damage was noted with lower end EF-3 damage to a cinder block utility building about 200 feet south of the primary residence. Most of its roof was removed, with over half of its downwind wall pushed outward. An older barn nearby suffered lesser EF-0 damage to its roof, while the top half of a silo near that barn was missing. Another barn structure was completely destroyed northwest of the primary home. The width at this point was approximately 1/4 mile. Other damage was noted near the intersection of Hickory Grove Road and Sugar Cove Road, with EF-1 damage to some heavy farm equipment and EF-0 roof damage to a nearby barn. Scattered trees were downed to the northeast, with 8 inch fence posts, anchored 18 inches deep, pulled up near Hickory Grove and Buncombe Road. There was evidence the tornado continued toward the mountains a few miles further east, with some trees damaged along the ridge.
04/27/2011
3:42 PM
Monroe,MS/Itawamba, MS/Marion, AL/Franklin, AL F5 Enhanced Fujita Scale Over 200 1320 37.1 0.71 ENE of Centerville to 1.88 NE of Centerville 23 137  After lifting for 4 miles, a violent EF-5 tornado touched back down southwest of of Smithville and moved northeast. The town of Smithville was almost completely destroyed by the tornado. Homes and businesses were completely wiped off of their foundations. The town hall, post office, police station, and four churches were destroyed. All appliances and plumbing fixtures in the direct path of the tornado were shredded or missing. Granite tombstones were knocked down in the opposite direction of the tornado passage. A ford explorer that was parked a half mile away from the town's water tower was picked up by the tornado and thrown into the top of the water tower. The vehicle was then thrown an additional few hundred feet. In total, 117 structures were destroyed with an additional 50 structures sustaining major damage. Numerous other structures sustained minor damage. Trees were debarked, twisted, and snapped. Power lines were knocked down and the town's water system was destroyed. A lot of the homes that were destroyed were well built, bolted to their foundations and were less than 10 years old. A total of 16 fatalites occurred from the tornado. Thirty-seven injuries occurred as well. The tornado continued northeast after destroying Smithville and crossed into Itawamba County, Mississippi.
The violent tornado moved northeast from Monroe County, Mississippi into southeast Itawamba County. The tornado weakened as it moved through Itawamba County. Numerous trees and power lines were knocked down. One home sustained roof damage. The tornado continued northeast and crossed over into Marion County, Alabama. This long track tornado crossed into Marion County, Alabama at a point near CR 93, southwest of Bexar. The tornado weakened to an EF1 rating as it entered Alabama, with winds of 110 mph. As the tornado tracked south of Bexar, a few mobile homes and outbuildings were damaged and numerous trees were snapped off and uprooted. The tornado moved across Corridor X/Future Interstate 22, near CR 33. As the tornado approached AL Hwy 19, 4 miles east southeast of Shottsville, it strengthened to an EF3 rating with winds of 160 mph, and destroyed several homes. This resulted in 6 fatalities. The tornado continued northeastward where it destroyed several single family homes and mobile homes along CR 20 and AL Hwy 187, 9 miles north of Hamilton. As the tornado approached the Marion/Franklin County line, several more houses were damaged and at least one chicken house destroyed near AL Hwy 187. Along the Alabama portion of the tornado path, hundreds of trees were downed, and at least 25 homes, mobile homes, and outbuildings were damaged or destroyed. The average path width of the Alabama portion of the tornado path was 0.5 mile (880 yds). The tornado continued into Franklin County Alabama (See Storm Data Huntsville), dissipating near Old Line Rd.
This tornado decreased quickly in intensity as it moved into southeastern Franklin county after producing EF-3 damage in Marion county. Just after crossing the Marion/Franklin county line, the tornado collapsed two chicken houses and ripped roofing material off of two others nearby along highway 187. The tornado continued its brief track northeast and ripped much of the roof off of a two story home as it approached highway 172. Based on roof damage observed and widespread nature of large trees blown down or snapped off near their base, winds were estimated at 120 mph (EF-2 tornado). Another house nearby experienced significant roof damage as well. The path width at this point was around 300 yards. As it reached highway 31, some minor shingle and home damage was observed. However, the tornado moved over a mainly forested portion of this area, continuing to snap/uproot numerous large trees, snapping several near their bases. As the tornado moved toward Old Line Road, additional damage to houses was observed. A few homes had portions of their roofs peeled off. In addition, a mobile home was destroyed. In this area a car was totaled by the tornado. Numerous large trees were snapped off or blown down as well. A barn was heavily damaged by trees in this area as well. The path width of the tornado was largest at this point and was estimated to be around 550 yards. A path of numerous large trees being snapped or blown down continued just northeast of this road. The tornado appeared to quickly dissipate over the forested area northeast of Old Line Road as little additional damage was seen from ground surveys. However, vehicle access via roadways was not available to ascertain whether the track continued any further northeast.
4/3/1974
7:50 PM
Lamar, AL/Marion, AL/Winston, AL/Lawrence, AL/Morgan, AL F5 Fujita Scale 261-318 1500 79.5 15m NNE of Columbus, Mississippi to Delmar, AL to Guin, AL to just E of Decatur, AL 28 272 The third F5 tornado to occur during the tornado Super Outbreak of 1974. It moved NE from 15m NNE of Columbus, Mississippi, passing 4m S of Sulligent, Alabama and directly through Guin and Delmar, NW of Danville, lifting at the Tennessee River, 6m ESE of Decatur. This was among the most intense tornadoes ever to hit Alabama, with F5 damage at several points in and near Guin. At Guin 20 people were killed as almost the entire town was devastated, with man homes completely swept away. Moving at up to 75 mph, the funnel passed through a city lost in two seconds, carrying away everything on the lot. I n the rural areas NE of Guin, many homes were destroyed, but not leveled. Crossing the Bankhead National Forest, the tornado leveled tens of thousands of trees along a path up to a mile wide. The swath was visible on satellite photographs. The funnel lifted east of Decatur, and traveled mostly aloft over the north part of Huntsville.
4/3/1974
6:35 PM
Limestone, AL/Madison, AL/Lincoln, TN/Franklin, TN F5 Fujita Scale 207-260 1500 62 8 SSW of Athens to Tanner to Capshaw to Harvest to Tim Ford's Lake on the northwestern edge of the Winchester community 22 250 The second fo three F5 tornadoes that occurred in the tornado Super Outbreak of 1974. It moved NE from just north of the Tennessee River, 8m SSW of Athens, just a half mile north of the track of the F5 tornado that began at 1715 the same day, which passed by a half hour earlier. Up to 19 people were injured in one home. Tanner, Capshaw, and Harvest were hit by both tornadoes. Sixteen deaths occurred in Alabama. Two of the six deaths in Tennessee were in a church near "Vanntown", near Flintville. The tornado produced F3 or F4 damage for its entire path length. Nearly 1000 buildings were destroyed by these two tornadoes, but no effort was made to determine the exact number of buildings destroyed by the individual tornadoes.
4/3/1974
5:50 PM
Lawrence, AL/Morgan, AL/Limestone, AL/Madison, AL F5 Fujita Scale 261-318 1500 52 New Hope to Mt Moriah community to Wheeler Lake to near Harvest 28 267 This powerful tornado moved NE from near Mt. Hope, 10m WSW of Moulton. The funnel passed 3m NW of Moulton, killing 14 people in and near the "Mt. Moriah" community (8 of whom were trying to flee the tornado in cars). Rapidly intensifying, the funnel swept away home after home, causing 14 deaths in rapid succession, SW and west of Moulton. Six members of one family were killed, as were four members of another family. Their homes were completely swept away. The funnel passed across Wheeler Lake as a giant waterspout and entered Limestone County on a small peninsula. Here it leveled a 3/4 mile-wide swath of trees. The reddish soil was dug up and plastered to the trees by the wind. A nearby mobile home park was damaged on the edge of the tornado, and an injured man was taken to a church. He died a half hour later when the church was destroyed by a second tornado to hit the area. The tornado lifted ESE of Harvest. Fatalities by county: Lawrence 14;Limestone 5;Madison 9. The deaths in Madison County occurred S of Harvest. Lawrence County losses alone totaled $6,000,000.

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REFERENCES

Grazulius, Thomas P., Significant Tornadoes 1860-1991, 1993. (data prior to 1950),
Grazulius, Thomas P., Significant Tornadoes Update 1992-1995, 1997.
Storm Prediction Center's Tornado Database, http://www.spc.noaa.gov
Storm Data, National Climatic Data Center.

 

Note: The sources above were used to obtain a list of all confirmed severe events produced by thunderstorms in the Huntsville CWA. This is not a list of all tornado occurences that have ever affected this area. More tornadoes has most likely occurred in rural areas where people are sparsely poplulated, especially prior to 1970.

 

 


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